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The Wrong Hostageby Elizabeth Lowell
Joe Faroe stepped out onto the main deck of the TAZ. The water in the heavily sheltered bay moved uneasily, echoing the power of the Baja hurricane boiling up from the south.
Just like the last time he'd seen Grace.
Now she stood on the dock, looking up at him, shading her eyes with her hand even though she wore sunglasses. She wore a white silk tee-shirt and blue jeans. She wasn't thin, she wasn't fat. She was just all woman everywhere a man liked to feel the difference.
Sixteen years hadn't changed her nearly enough.
"Hello, Joe. How have you been?"
For a moment Faroe didn't answer. He didn't trust his voice not to be too rough, too hungry, too angry, too everything. Grace had always done that to him, slid past his defenses and grabbed him where he lived and breathed and hoped.
Son of a bitch.
He shoved his hands into the hip pockets of his jeans and looked out at the ocean beyond the jetty. The surface was gray, slick, almost oily. Waves were breaking with a deceptive, lazy grace that made the jetty tremble.
Not a good time to be out at sea.
Not a good time to be docked.
Welcome to life with Grace Silva.
When Faroe looked back down at Grace, she'd removed her sunglasses. Some of the sixteen years showed around her eyes. She looked tired, tight, almost brittle. She also looked wiser, more mature, less sure of herself, and very unsure of her welcome with him.
"I'm fine, I guess, all things considered," Faroe said. "What about you?"
"Have you talked to the Ambassador?"
"Then you know I'm desperate. Otherwise I wouldn't have the nerve to come here."
"Yeah. Nerve. You're not an easy man to face."
"I'd think judges would be used to facing felons."
Grace looked away from Faroe's measuring green eyes, intense eyes shaped so much like her son's that she felt like the dock had been snatched from beneath her feet, leaving her dancing on air. She wanted to scream, to run away, to throw herself into Faroe's arms and find the wild oblivion she'd known only with him.
I'd think judges would be used to facing felons.
"Usually they haven't had sex with them," Grace said bluntly.
Faroe almost smiled, almost swore. Then she squared her shoulders and drew a deep breath. The movement outlined her breasts against the silk of her shirt. Faroe wanted to look away, but couldn't. He'd felt a primitive physical attraction to her the moment he saw her sixteen years ago. That hadn't changed.
He wondered if it ever would.
"Do you think this is easy for me?" she asked, her voice too husky.
Faroe stared at the wind vane on top of a sailboat's tall mast. The vane pointed into the wind, helpless to do any different. And he, well, he was helpless, too.
"My son..." Grace's voice failed. "I need you. Lane needs you. Help us. Please."
Faroe blew out a long, silent breath, trying to shake off the past. Whatever else had happened between himself and Grace, her child wasn't part of it.
And that child was in the hands of butchers.
"Come aboard," Faroe said. "We can talk below."
The relief that swept through Grace left her lightheaded.
He's not going to turn his back on me.
The step up from the dock was more than a foot and the ship moved unpredictably on the restless water. She looked warily at the gap between the dock and the deck.
Without thinking, Faroe held out his hand to her.
Grace ignored it. Instead she grabbed one of the stanchions and pulled herself aboard.
You want me, Faroe thought, but you don't trust me. That hasn't changed, either.
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